Seven Reasons Highway 413 should be Stopped

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It may not reduce your commute time.

Proponents claim it will save commuters 30 minutes each way, which is bullshit. The latest analysis summarized in an MTO briefing note prepared by a credible past colleague of mine states that this calculation doesn’t even take into account the 407 ETR, an underunderutilized east-west corridor which may in fact be faster than the proposed 413 route, at least based on the modelling.

The costs are outrageous.

In addition to all the cultural and environmental costs, the new Highway comes with an $8.2 billion price tag. This Province has lots of other important needs that can use these funds including post-pandemic recovery support, public health, education, housing, and the rising cost of living.

There are more efficient alternatives.

As mentioned earlier, the underutilized Highway 407, which runs parallel to the proposed route of Highway 413, was created to serve as a GTA bypass to relieve congestion on the 401. An expert panel, appointed by the previous government to review the merits of the proposed Highway, suggested that traffic be diverted to the 407 ETR with the elimination of tolls rather than building an entirely new major highway. This conclusion led to the temporary cancellation of the project, only to be revived by Doug Ford’s PCs who falsely claim to be fiscal conservatives.

It opens more land for development

With new infrastructure comes more low-density subdivisions, big box stores, gas stations, parking lots, and other auto-oriented land uses that will not only pave over our last remaining countryside but also induce more traffic to be dumped onto an already-congested 400-series highway network leading to greater congestion across the region.

It’s not a matter of cars vs. transit

The debate in the media has focused on whether these outer ring municipalities should instead be served by mass transit (ie. GO trains), which is the wrong discussion because it really doesn’t matter. Proponents also argue that 413 will be a multi-modal corridor that accommodates higher order transit. The real issue is that new infrastructure beyond the existing urban areas, regardless of whether it’s a highway or transit, encourages people to move farther from major employment centres in Toronto, Peel and York, leading to even more greenfield development. I suggest you read The Shape of the Suburbs by John Sewell..

Loss of Archaeological sites and habitat for endangered species.

The 59 km highway would pave over 2,000 acres of culturally significant lands long inhabited by the Huron Wendat including burial grounds. Also at risk are 5.95 km of forests, wetlands and important habitat for endangered species such as the rare redside dace, whose habitats within the Humber River and Credit River will be affected due to the fact that the proposed 413 route crosses their headwaters, which will have adverse effects downstream.

Numerous other endangered species would also be pushed closer to extinction.

We have a climate crisis on our hands.

We all know that the burning of fossil fuels is a major contributor to the erratic, unprecedented changes to weather patterns we are now experiencing. Given that nearly 30% of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, let’s maybe not build a massive highway that will add more than 17 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years.

West GTA municipalities continue to oppose it.

The Region of Peel, City of Brampton and the City of Mississauga who you think would benefit from this Highway have publicly voiced their opposition to it and continue to do so. It may be good for the Province to listen to the authorities closest to its constituents.

There is still hope!

Even though the PCs have now secured a majorty on a campaign to “get it done”, there is still a possibility that the federal government will intervene and conduct their own environmental assessment. The David Suzuki Foundation has provided a nice email template to write to the Minister of Environment and Climate.

Ontario’s Latest Transportation Plan Full of Gaps and Political Gimmicks

Ford will get it done!

The Ontario government finally released its Greater Golden Horseshoe Transportation Plan, which sets out their vision for the region’s transportation system over the next 30 years. Although this Plan was initiated under the Liberal government in 2016, Ford and the PCs have now taken the credit. It’s a shame that a half decade’s work has become Mr. Ford’s political campaign advertisement to buy votes for the next provincial election. Despite extensive stakeholder engagement during the development of the Plan, it is clear that the MTO simply didn’t listen or even give a fuck about anything they heard. Both the City of Mississauga, and the Region of Peel have publicly expressed their discontent regarding the Plan’s lack of details and commitment on key projects such as two-way service on the Milton GO corridor. Note: They weren’t even given the chance to see the Plan before it’s grand release to the entire world. Further, there is absolutely no regard for the overwhelming opposition to Highway 413 from the City of Mississauga, City of Brampton, Region of Peel, and numerous other prominent stakeholders.

The Plan includes a map of ambitious infrastructure investments including two “conceptual” transit lines, specifically a cross-regional connection between Burlington and Oshawa and an extension of the Ontario Line through Kipling station and Pearson Airport before connecting with the western end of the Line 4 subway. It all looks great besides the fact that important details such as costs and timelines are missing. As far as I’m aware, there has never been a single business case or cost-benefit analysis completed on any of these “conceptual” projects. Until then, the map is nothing more than a piece of art with a bunch of lines, which we have seen far too many times. Just one of many plans that would collectively make a great exhibit at the AGO.

Above: Map for proposed future transit network (MTO,2022)

Disclaimer: I may be biased on this subject due to my work with a party that has expressed concerns regarding both this plan and Highway 413.